Fun With Telemarketers

So today yet another one calls me. I usually let them go through their shpiel, as a public service (the longer I keep them on my line, the less time they have to bug others and perhaps -perish the thought- make money, right?). This call was from an insulation company which shall remain nameless, although it rhymes with Fowens-Forning.

So, she rattles on about home improvement, and then asks (because, you know, they want to be your friend and all), “If you could have any kind of home improvement done right now, what would you do?”

I answered, “Hmmm…probably buy a home, since I live in an apartment.” And that was it for THAT caller.

Another one called me some weeks ago, trying to sell me life insurance. I told him that, as a young, single, nonsmoker in good health with no dependants, I really don’t need any insurance. He pressed the issue, saying, “There are always accidents. What about the event of accidental death?”

I responded, “Well, I’m going to be a lawyer soon, so you’re pretty well guaranteed that if I die, it’s no accident.” Apparently the script didn’t have a ready response for that one.

Surely y’all have done better than me. What’s your snappiest telemarketer comeback?

No thank you, I’m not interested. Have a good day. ::hang up::

(what it lacks in panache, it gains in humanity.)

Slight hijack:

The oldest article I know of promoting telemarketing for businesses appeared in the September, 12, 1903 Western Electrician: Advertising by Telephone.

The oldest article I am aware of complaining about the practice appeared in the February 20, 1909 Telephony: Housekeeper Objects to Telephone Advertising.

The father of an old friend of mine used to let the aluminum-or-what-have-you siding telemarketers go through the whole schpiel, make it sound like he was all set to buy, get them really excited about making a sale, and then finish with “You guys do put this stuff on mobile homes, right?”

My piano teacher used to talk sweet to any female telemarketers that called. “Sure I’m interested. Are you going to come down and give me a personal demonstration?”

I just hang up.

telemarketer Hello Mr. Carnflakez I’m calling for Brand X. Long Distance, and I was…

me Thank you, but I don’t have a phone.

tm Uh… then how am I talking to you?

m I don’t know. Maybe you should ask your doctor.

I’m always curious about people who complain that telemarketers interrupt them and waste their time, yet always have stories of long pointless conversations they’ve had with the marketers to annoy them. This doesn’t seem like the actions of someone with no time to waste. I just say, “Thanks, I’m not interested.” and hang up. Gets the point across and no more time is wasted.

My response to the “how am I talking to you?” question has been-

“I figured it was the voices in my head!”

the first phonejockey hung up when I tried this, but the next one wanted to know if I wanted to save money on the voices in my head. That was one FUN call!!

My perspective: I suppose I do have time to waste, but that time is mine to do with as I please. I don’t want to spend it listening to a sales pitch.

Also, call it a personal failing, but I don’t like to just hang up on people. If the first “I’m not interested” doesn’t cause them to say “have a nice day” and hang up, but rather sends them into a new version of their sales pitch (see example 2 in the OP), then and only then do I escalate. Well, except for the morons who try to sell me home improvements (lawn service, siding, insulation) even though I live in an apartment, those fools deserve no mercy.

Finally, I see it as a public service to let them read through their whole script before I brush them off. The longer I keep this person on the line, the less time they have to bother other people, and the less money their employer makes (the person making the call gets paid the same either way). If we were all to keep telemarketers on the line as long as possible so that they couldn’t call other people and possibly make sales, the entire practice of telemarketing would fail. I’m working toward a glorious goal, here.

Simple enough:

  1. I’m not being paid to listen to them.
  2. I don’t want to listen to them.
  3. They’re never offering anything I want or need.
  4. From talking to ex-telemarketer friends, I’m reasonably sure
    the telemarketer doesn’t really want to talk to me, beyond the minimum demands of their job.

Therefore: I just hang up. No warnings, apologies or anything. I usually do it in the bare minimum time that it takes for me to realize they aren’t someone I know (usually 3 words or less). They can pretend they got a dead line or a machine. I don’t care.

I don’t swear at them, insult them or otherwise make their lives miserable. In my opinion, just hanging up is infinitely more polite than interrupting their free time with some inane marketing ploy, or playing some childish prank.